What is a PDQ machine?

Published: 02/09/2021

If you want to take card payments in your business, you’ll need a PDQ machine, which is just another name for a card machine.

What does PDQ mean?

It stands for ‘Process Data Quickly’ and was the original name used for card machines way back when they were first introduced to the UK; and it’s still a name people use for them today.

However, the PDQ machines of yesteryear worked quite differently to how they do today. In fact, they didn’t really live up to their original name at all.

With a PDQ machine, when you wanted to take a card payment, your customer would need to swipe their credit or debit card through it. The machine then printed out a receipt, which the customer would have to sign to authorise the payment.

You would then need to check the signature to the one that’s on the back of their card to make sure that they matched. It was a very long-winded process and not safe at all!

It meant that if a customer’s card had been lost or stolen, the thief would just need to perfect the signature on the back of the card to commit fraud.


The move from PDQ to chip and PIN.

Because PDQ machines could be easily used for card payment fraud, a new technology was brought in designed to help combat this. Enter chip and PIN.

First introduced to the UK in 2006, chip and PIN works by having your customer insert their debit card or credit card into the card machine. But instead of providing a signature, they type in a 4-digit PIN code. This PIN should be secret to .

Once they’ve put in their PIN, the chip of the customers card speaks to the card machine. The transaction data is then sent to your merchant account, which is where the transaction is checked and authorised by your customers bank.

After it’s been authorised, the payment’s sent from your customers bank into your own business bank account, where you’ll be able to access the money.

Chip and PIN is considered a quicker and much more secure way to pay, and since it was introduced, annual counterfeit card fraud losses dropped by £81.9 million between 2004 and 2014.


PDQ, chip and PIN, what matters to me?

No matter what you want to call them, a PDQ machine is an essential device that business owners should consider.

If you don’t take cards already, you’ll benefit from:

  • Quicker payments
  • More ways to take payments
  • Safer way to get paid
  • Less reliance on cash
  • Reduced cash handling
  • No need to deposit cash into the bank


How does a PDQ machine work?

PDQ machines let you take card payments easily. They work in the following way:

  • Your customer pops their card to your PDQ machine, and it will ask them to enter their PIN. Or, all of our PDQs are set up to take contactless payments, so your customer can tap and go for smaller amounts (the limit is set to increase to £100 in 2021).
  • Next, the customer's card provider will be sent a request for approval, to ensure the funds are available in their bank account.
  • Once approved, the funds will be taken from the customer's account and deposited into your merchant account.
  • The funds will then be settles into your business bank account (the number of days this will take will depend on your provider).

How do I get a PDQ machine?

We can help!

At takepayments, we have a range of different PDQ machines to choose from, all designed to suit various businesses. There’s…

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We’ve got a team of local payment consultants who will come out and meet you to learn more about your business. They’ll then create a personalised pricing package around your business to best suit your needs. Plus, there’s no set-up fees to join!

We also understand the need to be flexible. That’s why we offer short 12-month contracts.

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